The United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) lauded the support of Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Imee Marcos to call for a Senate Inquiry into the importation of agricultural products including sugar, and the Negros Occidental Provincial Board for their unanimous objection to sugar importation while milling is at its peak.
“We are thankful for our champions in the Senate for their strong stance against ill-planned sugar importation and for seeking an inquiry into the questionable importation program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA),” UNIFED President Manual Lamata said.
Zubiri on Monday filed Senate Resolution 995 to investigate the issuance of Sugar Order No. 3 that allows as the importation of 200,000 metric tons of sugar “even at the height of the harvest and milling season, as well as importation programs of the DA on other agricultural products with the end view of crafting policy that will ensure support for farmers and food security instead of import dependency.”
Marcos on Sunday also assailed the DA’s importation program, particularly on fish produce and “regrets” endorsing the confirmation of DA Secretary William Dar. In a press statement, Marcos said “Dar has done nothing but import rice, chicken, pork, fish, and now sugar.”
Lamata also thanked the Negros Occidental Provincial Board for the passage of a provincial resolution objecting to SO3.
“We are very thankful to our provincial officials for supporting our call. They clearly understand that sugar remains as our economic lifeline and anything that affects the industry will have a major impact in our lives here,” Lamata said.
The SP resolution cited the irony of issuing SO3 when “only a week before, SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica has come out saying there was no reason for prices to increase since supply is stable despite the effects of Typhoon Odette.”
The SP also questioned the process which only allows industrial users to participate in the import program.
UNIFED said earlier there is “something fishy” with SO3. They were recently granted a Temporary Restraining Order against SO3 for twenty days.
Lamata has reiterated his call for the firing of Serafica “as he has no decency to resign despite everything.”